This year Layups 4 Life helped to fund a fellow on the Bone Marrow Transplant Team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). Dr. Bart Getta is currently on this elite team. Dr. Getta’s work focuses on leukemia cells that linger after a patient receives a stem cell transplant. He and his team are set to present their research at the championship event of malignant hematology this December in California. Please read more below on Dr. Getta’s fast break in the fight against cancer.
A number of patients with acute leukemia who are in complete remission at the time of transplant end up relapsing at some point after their transplant.
Identify these patients to offer them either a different type of transplant or additional treatments after the transplant.
In recent years, MSK has developed new methods to detect lingering leukemia that cannot be seen when looking at the bone marrow under the microscope.
Dr. Getta and his colleagues are using these two approaches:
1. Next generation sequencing, a technique to detect very small amounts of mutations that are specific for the type of leukemia the patient has.
2. Multi-parameter flow cytometry, a technique that looks at markers on the surface of cells and can also detect very small percentages of abnormal cells in an otherwise normal appearing marrow.
They examined bone marrow samples before and after transplant in 122 patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who underwent an allogeneic stem cell transplant.
Patients who had evidence of leukemia by either of the above tests before transplant were more likely to relapse after transplant compared to those who were negative for both tests.
After transplant, a positive test also meant the patient would eventually relapse.
When comparing the two tests, the flow cytometry test appeared to be most useful, as the DNA test only detected certain mutations.
The next step is to expand the set of mutations the test can detect to increase its utility.
These results have important implications on how we treat patients with acute leukemia who undergo a transplant, and will hopefully lead to new ways to reduce the risk of relapse.
The importance of these results was recognized by the American Society of Hematology meeting’s committee and was selected for an oral presentation at their annual meeting!
The Entire Team:
This work is an excellent example of collaborations between doctors on the leukemia and transplant services at MSK, their colleagues in the clinical laboratories and pathology departments, and the dedication of the Layups 4 Life community.